Mississippi River District
“I believe that one of the redistricting goals, in 2011, was to help protect (the Republican incumbent in the 7th District to the north) by shifting some Republican voters — looking at past historical voting patterns — into the 7th District. Southwest of the district was the 3rd, securely held by (Democrat) Congressman Ron Kind since 1996. This district was somewhat crescent-shaped and followed the Mississippi River, from St. Croix County in the north to Grant and Lafayette Counties in the south.
“The areas primarily involved in this redistricting were from St. Croix County (which was becoming more like a suburb of the Twin Cities), Clark and parts of Monroe and Jackson counties, areas identified as more likely to vote Republican, and move all or parts of Democratic-leaning Wood, Adams, Portage and Eau Claire into the 3rd. This was expected to solidify (Republican) hold on the 7th and increase Kind’s security in holding the 3rd. The 3rd district (changed) from a crescent to more of a “Y” shaped district, which now included the cities of Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids in central Wisconsin.
“In the 2020 November election, with President Trump again on the ballot, and against a very competitive and well-financed Republican opponent, Derrick Van Orden, Kind’s margin of victory narrowed to about 51% of the vote and he won only by about 11,000 votes (out of 314,000 votes). He won by doing well in the urban centers of the district, while Van Orden carried virtually all of the rural counties Thus, over the 10 year period, the district went from a “safe” Democratic to a much more competitive one.”
– Joseph Heim, professor emeritus of political science at UW-La Crosse
“In an effort to ensure that (the incumbent) easily retained the (7th Congressional) District (to the north), Republicans removed the Democratic areas of Portage County and half of Wood County from the (7th), placing them in Democrat Congressman Ron Kind’s 3rd District. Prior to this change, Kind represented the western part of the state, often referred to as the Mississippi River District. His new constituency included Democratic-dominated central Wisconsin cities of Stevens Point, place of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and Wisconsin Rapids, an industrialized city that had been dominated by the paper industry. Interestingly, Republicans moved some GOP areas, as shown by their vote for former President Donald Trump, into Kind’s district to replace other Republican areas that had to be moved into Duffy’s district to maintain districts of equal population. Most notably, Adams and Juneau Counties are now part of Kind’s district. This has the effect of making Kind vulnerable, illustrated by Democrats fearing that this district could be lost. While Kind held the district in 2020, the strong vote for Trump has put the district in the competitive column.”
– Ed Miller, professor of political science at UW-Stevens Point